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Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,320 ratings  ·  129 reviews
This engrossing debut novel depicts Sylvia Plath's feverish artistic process in the bitter aftermath of her failed marriage to Ted Hughes--the few excruciating yet astoundingly productive weeks in which she wrote Ariel," " her defining last collection of poems.
In December 1962, shortly before her suicide, Plath moved with her two children to London from the Hughes's home
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Anchor Books (first published January 1st 2003)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel, beautifully imagining Sylvia Plath in her struggles with her time, her marriage, herself--depression, motherhood, perfectionism... I really felt this marriage to be true, and the novelist's understanding of her character unlocked some of the mysteries of Plath's choices and dilemmas. Gorgeously written, utterly persuasive. I actually teach point of view using scenes from this book as exemplars.

Aniko Carmean
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Wintering, a novel of Sylvia Plath by Kate Moses, received glowing accolades from enough newspapers and reviewers to fill several pages at the front of the novel. Praise is heaped on the lucid intensity of the prose and the ability for Moses to give insight into the last several months of Plath's life. I'm going to be in the minority in not loving this book, mostly because I am of the opinion that if you want Plath, there is plenty about Plath by Plath. Between her journals, her letters home, ...more
After completing Sylvia Plath's final poetry collection, Ariel, in February, I wanted to know more about the woman. I discovered that I had this novel about her on my shelves. When I found a positive recommendation for it by Janet Fitch, it seemed a good place to start.

The novel covers mostly the last year of Plath's life with some backstory about earlier years. I found it to be breathtaking in writing style, almost as if Kate Moses were channeling Plath's poetry style into prose.

She covers
Amy (literatiloves)
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love biographical fiction. I really liked The Paris Wife and Loving Frank so I knew this would be right up my alley!
Wintering is a novel based on the last few months of Sylvia Plath's life with flashbacks to earlier times in her marriage to Ted Hughes. It is an emotional and depressing read (but emotional and depressing is my middle name) and it is beautifully written. I love how the book is set up. The chapters are named for the poems in Ariel in their original sequence and each chapter
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book the rare compliment of reading it twice -- once when it first came out, back in 2003. I have a frustrating relationship with Plath, to whom I'd like to give, alternately, a long hug and a hard slap. Apparently that's the way Ted felt about her, too.

As a child of a mother who made many attempts at suicide, and who finally died by accident when she was about Plath's age (when I was 2 1/2 and my sister was 5 1/2), I have always been struck by the extraordinary self-centeredness of
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This novel is a beautiful and poetic portrait of the last months of Sylvia Plath's life. It is heart breaking and joyful with hope and desperation at a constant ebb and flow. Kate Moses does a masterful job weaving the facts of Plath's life with the fictional intimate conversations, and interactions imagined between the known lines of Plath's fiery rise from the ashes of her broken marriage and the rapid fall of her star as her passion finally burned her out.

Fans of Plath should definitely pick
Mar 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Plath/Hughes fans
As someone who has studied Plath's life and work for a long time, I was intrigued by the notion of someone having taken on Plath, Hughes, and their friends and families as characters for a novel.

The chapters of Wintering are each titled after one of Plath's Ariel poems, in the original sequence Plath had planned for the book -- the manuscript was to begin with the word "love" and end with the word "spring." Wintering author Kate Moses has clearly done a lot of excellent research -- this is
Shaz S
Jan 17, 2010 rated it liked it

Since I had no previous knowledge of Kate Moses's work, I picked up this book purely on the basis of my obsession with Sylvia Plath. The book is a fictional look at the last few months of SP's life. The narrative switches quite comfortably between first and third person narrative very often. Considering this is Kate Moses' first book, its quite impressive but its not an easy read. The titles of the chapters are from the poems of Ariel, her last collection of poems. The book starts with Sylvia
Lorri Steinbacher
Moses so completely captures the oppressive sadness as well as the manic creativity that I imagine marked the last few months of Plath's life. I like that she ends on a hopeful note, rather than on the more salacious point of her suicide, which takes place a few weeks later. Since Moses used Plath's journals as part of her background research this makes sense--she cannot extrapolate on those last weeks as those journals were destroyed by Hughes. Like all good, complex characters you ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
I really, really disliked this book.
I cannot even put my finger on why I hated it so much that it took me one month to finish reading it. I found the writing pedantic, a sad, lukewarm copy of Plath's lively, strong, powerful writing.
I also found the chronological disorder very poorly structured and very confusing. The long descriptions fail to capture the reader's eye, and are simply too much.
What is more, I couldn't find Plath one of my favourite writers - among the pages of this novel, aiming
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't write reviews nearly as often as I should but this book compels me to write one. The novel is based on facts known about Plath, but what makes this book extraordinary is the beauty of the prose. Each chapter is named after a poem in Plath's final book Ariel. The chapter entitled "Ariel" was so beautiful I read it twice.

If you are at all interested in Plath and her work, I highly recommend this book. I loved it.
Kate Stericker
Although I feel that Moses accomplished her artistic vision, I would not recommend this book to anyone not intimately familiar with the life and writings of Sylvia Plath. Because I approached this book as I would any other novel, I was frustrated by many of the features which were likely intended to appeal to Plath fans. For example, Moses' writing style (presumably modeled after Plath) is so lyrical that the book often seems like an extended prose poem, making it difficult to tell whether long ...more
Nov 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Beautifully written and does justice to Plath. Unfortunately didnt read it all. ...more
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars Moses is a very very good writer. Very poetic. The topic still gives me pause, but it's really a beautiful book and she defintiely did her research.
Apr 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Mixed reaction here. Kate Moses obviously immersed herself in all the Plath writings (by and about) and does try to channel the very words Plath might have used. So, you really have to admire her earnestness and her love of language.

But Sylvia Plath is tricky territory. So many of us are sort of fangirls, you know? And we all have our triggers and sore points and exalted opinions and sorrows and yearnings. (and we wonder about--how we wonder--what the poems of the next decades would have held).

Amy Westgarth
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. A perfect addition to Plath's own journals.

There's some criticism on here about the dense prose, but, having waded through 750 pages of the aforementioned journals, I can confirm the writing style is absolutely spot on.

I do take the point that if you want to properly experience Sylvia Plath you should read Sylvia Plath and not someone pretending to be her. However, this being written in the third person helps reassure the reader that Moses is only trying to be like Plath, not
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't know what to think of the book "Wintering" yet. I am enjoying the poetic prose but at times it gets confusing, especially during the Ariel chapter.

I understand that the poem, Ariel, was one of Sylvia Plath's best poems, and Ariel, the horse, was very significant in her life (an inspiration), but for me, this chapter went on a bit too much. It was mostly just descriptions of the scenery and her relationship to the handling of the horse. Ariel was not an easy horse to maneuver and Sylvia
Daneil Newcomb
There are some books you devour, indulging in page after page, drinking in the words like ice cold lemonade on a sweltering summer day or homemade cookies from mother's college care pack. These books are ingested with urgency and saturating yourself in their goodness. These are the books you skip meals for, or stay up far too late to finish, or push aside your to do list for another day to read just one more chapter. There are books you devour, but this is not one of those books.

This book is
Kerry & naomi
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paper
Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath held a certain sense of immediacy for me. I was about to leave Northampton, the location of Smith College where Plath attended as an undergraduate and then later taught. Smith Colleges archive is a treasure trove of Plath memorabilia from drafts of her poems, her journals, letters, even notes from classes and the books she read and annotated (the other repository for Plath scholars is the Lilly Library at the University of Indiana in Bloomington). My final ...more
Julie Wilson
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This novel was haunting. Sylvia was such a profoundly sad, talented writer and the author here has beautifully crafted a believable tale of what "might have, could have" been Sylvia's life during the crumbling of her marriage. Reading this book led me to explore more of her work - until this I had only read The Bell Jar.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Totemic body of work, but unnecessarily pretentious. In parts unreadable.
Anne Green
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a book that promised much ... a fictionalised biography of a writer who's become an icon as much because of her sensationalised and tragic life than for her undisputed brilliance. It is in fact a look at the last troubled months of Plath's life after she moved with her two children to London, although it stops short of her actual suicide. Although this period is the core of the book, corresponding with the writing of many of the "Ariel" poems, the chronology jumps about erratically to ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wintering, A Novel of Sylvia Plath, is a beautifully-written prose poem focusing on the bitter dissolution of her marriage, the volcanic outpouring of writing which immediately followed the breakup, her battle with depression and devotion to her two children. It's a striking work.

'Sylvia watches. She watches Ted's forefinger slide down the back of a page, a finger down her spine. Lifting, turning, the page floating to the floor. Like a snowflake, a free and inimitable thing, riding the air. Ted,
Pamela Scott
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I loved Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath.

Im a huge fan of Plath. Her poetry is among the first I ever read and made me want to write my own. Her novel, The Bell Jar is one of the most heart-breaking novels Ive ever read.

So of course, I had to read this book.

This is a sad novel, almost unbearably raw and painful at times. Sylvia struggles to keep her fragile live and the life of her young children together following the end of her marriage to Ted
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up at a used bookstore while on vacation this summer. Ive always been fascinated by Sylvia Plath though I havent reread her work in years. I really enjoyed this novelization of a key time
period in her life and her relationship with Ted Hughes. Its beautifully written in a sometimes stream of consciousness style with many words that even a seasoned reader and English professor had to stop and look up! Im glad Ive been to England fairly recently to have context for the geography and
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
I prefer either Plaths own works, or scholarly biographies. I tried to like this book but it felt inauthentic. Its not Plath. Its a fictitious imagining of her last months (and doesnt claim to be anything else). I couldnt get past this. Plath is one of my favorite subject matters but I only enjoy her direct work or nonfiction. I was not going to review this book then, because it doesnt seem fair to the author. I decided to leave a quick review up anyway. I just couldnt engage. I did read it with ...more
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very poetically written which...makes sense, usually isnt my cup of tea though.

Although the description mentioned this was going to involve Plath and Hughes relationship, I didnt know it was going to be the whole novel (again, makes sense.)

What Im trying to say was, it was fine. Not what I was expecting it to be, and not my usual preference in writing style, but worth checking out if youre interested in Plath.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had to DNF this one. I chose it for the Popsugar Reading Challenge, for the prompt: "a novel based on a real person" and I was excited to see there was one about Sylvia Plath. But it turns out I feel awkward and embarrassed about reading a book that's a fantasy take on a real person's life and thoughts. The fact that everything revolve around Ted (and the children) and not just Sylvia herself didn't help. Maybe I will try to read it again in the future, if I can manage another state of mind.
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
A novel about Sylvia Plath's last year (mostly). Depicts the chaos with her young children and Ted Hughes's affair with her friend. Explores more of her earlier years and her mental illness as well as happier times living in the country.
Jennifer Warnock
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully crafted.

I would recommend to any Sylvia Plath fan.
One only hopes that this version of events is as close to the
unfortunate truth as possible. The characters are presented with such tenderness.
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